As we await the inevitable Kobe-LeBron clash -- as you know, these things are determined by the NBA before the season even begins; heck, I have the memo right in front of me -- let us consider why everyone (I know) still hates the Celtics.
If you're unfortunate enough to be as old as Couch Slouch is -- which means growing up in the 1960s, stumbling through college in the '70s, getting married and divorced in the '80s and getting married and divorced again in the '90s -- then you qualify as a First Generation Celtics Hater.
The recent Celtics renaissance has been bothersome, worsened by other Boston-area championship runs by the Patriots and the Red Sox. And the Larry Bird era before that was equally tough on reasonable, David Stern-fearing souls. But nothing was more horrific and horrifying than the original Red Auerbach dynastic reign.
I am still scarred from a childhood of watching the Celtics get call after call and win title after title; the only benefit was that it prepared me for an adulthood of watching Duke games.
For years, any deciding game of a Celtics playoff series was virtually scripted. They felt like Harlem Globetrotters-Washington Generals games, minus the bucket of confetti.
Auerbach didn't pay off the referees, he simply had them "relocated" if they didn't comply.
Here are three largely factual Celtics facts:
•They never lost a Game 7 at Boston Garden on a Sunday.
•There was not a traveling call on a Celtic in the postseason between 1957 and 1986.
•In Game 5 against the Bulls last month, Ray Allen became the first Celtic to foul out of a playoff contest since Satch Sanders in 1966.*
*When I was 10, I watched a Celtics-76ers playoff game in which Bailey Howell committed eight -- no, make that NINE -- personal fouls before they even considered disqualifying him. But the officials conferred with Auerbach, and Howell remained in the game.
(Column Intermission: How could the Nuggets trade Allen Iverson and still lead the league in tattoos? The Pepsi Center has more Baroque drawings than the Louvre; Stanford offers an art history course that solely studies Chris Andersen's right arm.)
As for the current, unsavory Celtics, I excuse the coach, Doc Rivers, who was a terrific analyst on TNT and is a class act on the bench. I excuse no one else.
The Big Three -- Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce -- play the game right, but I'm tired of seeing Garnett in his Big & Tall Men's Shop suit standing on the sidelines chest-bumping teammates.
I don't like Kendrick Perkins; I don't know why.
Eddie House wears his socks too high, for my tastes. I also wouldn't mind if, just one time after hitting a three-pointer, he didn't go frolicking back down court like he just won the lottery.
Big Baby Davis is, well, a big baby.
Stephon Marbury is a walking, trash-talking billboard for underachieving pro-athlete dysfunction.
Brian Scalabrine -- didn't he used to be on "Saved By The Bell"?
Then there's Ragin' Rajon Rondo, emerging as a top point guard and a top punk artist. In the Bulls series, he stuck out his leg to trip Kirk Hinrich in Game 5, smacked Brad Miller across the mouth later in Game 5 and flung Hinrich into the scorer's table in Game 6. A friend of mine excused each act as "borderline dirty." Feh! Before becoming a Celtic, I believe Rondo was a bagman in the John Dillinger gang.
All of it is made worse by the too passionate, too smug New England fan base. I used to fear running into know-it-all New Yorkers, now I duck my head around the corner to make sure there are no Celtic jerseys within sight. It's reached the point where I will not walk into a Boston-area sports bar without headphones and a musket.
Here's hoping that the Magic is in the process of taking Non-Celtics Nation out of our misery. I need a lot of rest before Tom Brady's epic autumnal return.
P.S. I will give up one of my stepchildren to anyone who can keep the Red Sox out of the playoffs.
Q. On behalf of those north of the border, I'd like to apologize for Don Cherry. Who would you like to apologize for? (Chris St. Jacques; Ottawa, Ontario)
A. I think every American, including myself, should be sorry for something. But, in particular, I guess I'd like to apologize for Donald Trump.
Q. Since Manny Ramirez is suspended from Major League Baseball, does this mean he can play for the Pittsburgh Pirates for 50 games? (David Littell; Avon, Ohio)
A. Pay the man, Shirley.
Q. Is the fertility drug HCG just Manny Ramirez exploring his feminine side a la Nuke LaLoosh with the black garter? (Mark H. Young; Alexandria, Va.)
A. Pay this fella, too.
Q. Any chance Manny Ramirez was trying to get pregnant? (Jim O'Brien; Racine, Wis.)
A. Another wise soul, another 10 bits.
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